IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

P.96. Fragmentary official letter

Description: Four fragments (two adjoining) from a limestone panel; a and b adjoining belong probably to the right side of the panel. Together they measure w: 0.29 x h: 0.18 x d: 0.03. Fragment c has no edges and measures w: 0.095 x h: 0.07 x d: 0.015. Fragment d has also no edges and measures w: 0.65 x h: 0.85 x d: 0.02
Text: Inscribed on one face. In fragments c and d lines are closer together than in a+b.
Letters: Perhaps second century CE: 0.01-0.015; h-shaped H in fragment a, line 6.

Date: Perhaps second century CE

Findspot: Ptolemais: at the south end of the Portico fronting the Odeon, some 30m from the Square of the Cisterns; found in 1937.
Original location: Unknown.
Last recorded location: Tolmeita Museum


[---i]nstrum[entum? ---]
[---]as nostrarum
[---pr]oprium negotium
[---] ụt inspiciant et fidẹm
5[---]s de is quae adversus
[---]int huius epistulae in forọ
[---]tionibus claris litteris
[---]ṛum quotiens [c. 5]
[---]ṣ in p̣ọ[c. 10]
[---]ẸXV inplici[---]
[---]ịentes d[---]
[---] ṇoto p̣[---]
[---]m de eo [---]
[---] qu[---]




a+b.9: S might be C, P might be B or R. c.3: N might be I, and P might be E or F.

English translation

Translation by: Editors

(a+b): [ . . . ] document [ . . . ] of our [? affairs . . . ] own transactions [ . . . ] that they may examine and the trust [ . . . ] about those who might be against [ . . . ? publish a copy ]of this letter in the forum [ . . . ] in clear characters [ . . . ] as often as [ . . . ] and in [ . . .

(d): . . . ] ?15 [ . . .

(d): . . . ] about it [ . . . ] which [ . . .


The document is an official letter (fragment a+b, line 6); it probably came from an emperor though possibly from a governor. i]nstrum[entum standing for document is the most likely restoration.

a+b, line 6: foro: the writer no doubt used the word of the principal public place of any city and without reference to local usage at Ptolemais; of this we only know from Synesios, who has ἀγορά (Ep. 57.195c) as is to be expected. It is clear, however, that the text creates a strong presumption that earlier suggestions for the location of the agora should be rejected (so Goodchild). The findspot suggests the identification of the porticoed square, 30 metres away, with the principal public place of the city. On the area see Goodchild, loc.cit.

Line 7: 'clear characters': Similar formulae providing for efficient display are common in analogous texts (see a collection of instances by M.W. Frederiksen (1965) p.184f.) but we have found no other instance of the wording used here.

Bibliography: Goodchild, 1967, a, b, c, p. 47, fig. I, p. 48, whence AE 1967.533 a-c, whence EDH 015148, EDH 015151, EDH 015154 Reynolds, 1972, 46. Mentioned Kenrick, 2013, 92
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


   Fig. 1. a, b and c with an unidentified fragment (Joyce Reynolds, Tolmeita 6A2)

   Fig. 2. a, b and c with an unidentified fragment

   Fig. 3. Fragments a, b, c. (Ispettorato Monumenti e Scavi - Bengasi, Serie A/718 Rullo 39, foto 28)

   Fig. 4. Fragments a and b (1961-5-26, Joyce Reynolds III.15.2)

   Fig. 5. a, b and c with an unidentified fragment (Joyce Reynolds 6A.3)

   Fig. 6. Fragments d and c (Joyce Reynolds III.15.1)